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Navigating gay marriage after Supreme Court holding

Rhode Island residents, like the rest of the country, may have been waiting in anticipation for the Supreme Court's decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA prohibited same-sex couples from being eligible for federal benefits. Now that DOMA has been overturned, many legal issues may arise for same-sex partners from an economic standpoint.

One of the greatest impacts this decision will have on married gay couples has to do with the tax benefits. When a married couple decides to split up, money, property and assets can be transferred between the spouses without any tax consequences. When unmarried couples, gay or straight, decide to split, both income and gift tax consequences will be attached. This can have a significant impact on couples with multiple homes and assets that have been acquired over the course of their relationship.

While married gay couples will now have more benefits through marriage, there will also be more benefit and flexibility should the union end in divorce proceedings. One of the main family law issues that comes up in a divorce has to do with the division of property and assets. When dividing property in a divorce negotiation or proceeding, the tax consequences can have a major impact on the financial challenges the couple will face and the way property and assets are divided.

Same-sex couples who are thinking of marriage, or contemplating divorce, would do well to seek the advice of an experienced family law professional. As the laws are changing, it is important that Rhode Island residents take steps to ensure their rights are protected andthat they are making the best financial decisions for themselves and their families.

Source: Forbes, "Supreme Court Upholds Gay Marriage (Divorce Too), " Robert W. Wood, June 26, 2013

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